Staff have been told they are free to speak out and complain if the quality of care at King’s Mill Hospital in Sutton dips below standard.
The reassurance follows a nationwide review into the treatment of NHS whistleblowers, which found that staff can be ignored, intimidated or even bullied if they raise concerns.
In extreme cases, whistleblowers’ lives were ruined, their health suffered and one person even contemplated suicide.
However, King’s Mill chiefs insisted it had a proven policy to protect whistleblowers and said: “We will always support staff who raise concerns at work.”
A statement issued this week by Karen Fisher, executive director of human resources at Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which manages King’s Mill, read:
“Quality patient-care is our number one priority, and our staff are best placed to identify those areas where care falls below the standards we expect.
“We want staff to feel comfortable to raise concerns about patient safety and quality of care. We have a whistleblowing policy which has been developed through extensive consultation, with support from the Public Concern At Work charity, to reassure staff that it is safe and acceptable to speak up at an early stage and in the right way.”
The review, which was chaired by Sir Robert Francis QC, took evidence from more than 600 NHS staff, while a further 19,000 responded to an online survey. “I’ve heard some shocking stories,” he said.
The government accepted all of Sir Robert’s recommendations, including the need to appoint a guardian for all whistleblowers.